A group picture with around 20 people holding ESN flags.

In the frosty embrace of the north, where the locals can be as chilly as the weather, forging connections becomes a daunting task for foreigners. With their effort, ESN Finland and ESN Latvia created a safe space for the local youth to meet up with international people to be trained in intercultural competence. And what is even better, they brought members from these two countries to share their knowledge by participating in a joint national training event.

ESN Finland and ESN Latvia have struggled to implement continuous national training events over the past few years. No matter whether the reason was the lack of income or the lack of interest to organise this kind of event when they saw an opportunity from the Latvian Youth Council to carry out a project on intercultural competence, it opened a path for them to connect what is useful with what is needed.

The trainers explaining the basics of non-formal education to the volunteers


Beyond Biases was divided into two parts. The first part was focused on training ESN volunteers in non-formal education by having them deliver a workshop on the topic of stereotypes and discrimination. Two experienced trainers from ESN Italy and ESN Finland were invited to take the lead and prepare the volunteers for this new challenge. The purpose of the second part was to invite the local youth from Latvia, who often struggle to meet international people in their everyday lives. This audience had the chance to speak English, meet foreigners, as well as learn something new about stereotypes and discrimination through various activities prepared by the ESN volunteers, who were practising their facilitation skills at the same time.

Even though this first joint national training event did not attract the desired number of participants, both from the volunteers and local youth, ESN Finland and ESN Latvia still consider it to be a success. They spent evenings together talking with ESN volunteers interested in becoming real facilitators through Eduk8, which would greatly contribute to the future of both National Organisations of ESN. They also shared their passion for ESN with the local youth who are now eager to join the Network. And, in the end, that is what volunteering in ESN is all about — sharing passion and personal development.

The members of the Organising Committee together with the trainers